JRS Italy -
During 2008 the number of asylum applications
presented in Italy increased dramatically, totaling a
number of 31,097 new applications. Already in 2007, with
14,053 applications, the Italian reception system
experienced many difficulties: the new trend caused a
real emergency, which exploded during the summer. The
National System for Protection of Asylum Seekers and
Refugees, though it has been refinanced with emergency
funds, has only 4,388 places in the whole country.
The new right-wing Government faced up to the situation
with contradictory measures, such as opening huge
centres to collect asylum seekers without effective
projects of legal and social assistance. Legislation
concerning asylum was still lacking, and the progress
made during 2007 with the implementation of European
directives¹ was partly cancelled.
The implementing Legislative Decree, the result of many
meetings and consultations between the Ministry of
Interior and a group of experts from Italian NGOs,
including JRS Italy, was heavily modified. The appeal
against a negative decision of the Commission is now
even more difficult and, for the first time in Italian
legislation, the concept of “manifestly unfounded
application” was introduced. Some laws which have an
impact on immigration and asylum matters were also
introduced in the so-called “Security Package”, a set of
urgent norms concerning public security which has been
presented to the Parliament.
Italians experienced a general feeling of social
insecurity, somehow encouraged by unwise public
statements by some members of the Government. Episodes
of xenophobia and racism, including unmotivated attacks
to migrants, occurred during the year.
In the different territorial offices (Roma, Palermo,
Catania, Trento, Vicenza) JRS Italy reached about 20,000
beneficiaries during 2008. In Rome, the soup kitchen served more
than 400 meals every day, and 481 people attended five days a
week the Italian language course. Most of the effort during the
year was focused on increasing the capacity of the services and
opening new ones.
A new reception centre for 25
women and children was opened in Palermo. The Ministry for
Welfare financed the renovation of the building, which made it
possible for Centro Astalli Palermo to give an answer to an
urgent need of the town.
for assistance and health care to asylum seekers and refugees
Sa.Mi.Fo., based in Rome and started in 2007 thanks to a
partnership between JRS Italy and the Italian National Health
Service with the support of UNHCR, was potentiated and moved to
new offices in the city centre.
2008, programs of awareness raising were particularly important,
especially the programs for young people. The two projects
offered by JRS Italy, ‘the right to asylum’, and the ‘interfaith
dialogue for high school students’ were continued in 2008.
Thousands of teenagers in many Italian towns, including Rome,
Catania, Palermo, Padova, Lecce, Imperia, Milan, participated in
The second edition of the writing competition, “La scrittura non
va in esilio”, supported by the Ministry of Cultural Heritage,
was a great success, with the winning story coming from a 14
year old Roman student. The story was published on the front
page of the national newspaper “L’Unità”, and will be the basis
fo a short movie to be directed by the Cinema School of Rome.
course on asylum rights in Europe and in Italy, “Borders or
Barriers?”, was organised, as every spring, for staff and
volunteers in Rome. The three conferences, whose speakers were
representative of UNHCR and of the main NGOs working on the
theme, were attended by an average of 100 people each.
In June JRS Italy was visited by Father Nicolás SJ, the newly
elected Father General of the Society of Jesus, who gave a long
and meaningful speech on migration in the light of his own
occasion of the Refugee Day a new website for JRS Italy was
launched (www.centroastalli.it) and a monthly newsletter for a
quick sharing of activities and initiatives was created.
Fr Giovanni La Manna SJ, Country Director
Associazione Centro Astalli, Via degli Astalli 14/A - I-00186
Tel: +39-06 697 003 06 or + 39-06 678 12 46 - Fax: +39-06 679 67
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